Lexic Task - Zodiax EP
Released: January 24
In the run-up to the release of his latest full album, Toronto-based artist has given us a short sampling of tracks that will be included in the form of a succinct EP. The range of styles varies rather wildly while still managing to sound like a cohesive whole, with no tracks feeling out of place.
Much of what we get here is beatless soundscapes that manage to stay away from being what could typically be considered ambient. Instead, we get some odd and playful soundscapes including the opening track "Zzzodiac" which plays with a somewhat rhythmic piece in the background while we get mangled little synth pieces that pop in and out.
However, things get shaken up with the third track "0Reunity" with an upfront focus on energetic and glitched-out drums that are accompanied by an almost acid-style bassline. It's a rather eclectic little collection of tracks and it will be interesting to hear the other tracks that will join them on the full album.
wóma - drán & ongalnes
Released: January 1
In some cases, the limitations an artist places upon themselves for a project can result in amazing pieces of sound being created. This is the case for this haunting EP from wóma. Made entirely through the use of an instrument known as a bow chime, the sounds are masterfully crafted to create evocative droning soundscapes that range from deep resonations to shaky, slightly clattering sounds that combine to form stirring atmospheres.
You can sometimes even hear the gentle scraping of metal as the individual rods vibrate. Even more affecting is the subtle manipulation of this instrumental to create almost vocal-like sounds, as if an unintelligible voice is calling out to the listener from far away as can be heard on the third track "Cargealdor." Now place all of these sonic wonders inside of a cavernous room and the result is a stunning work of eerie beauty.
VANITAS命死 - Secret Stereo
Released: December 17
A wonderous and dreamy dive into plundered audio and thick helping of nostalgia, this latest offering from vaporwave artist VANITAS命死 is nothing short of amazing from the very start. The opening track "Immersive Listening Experience" has some of the biggest and boomiest drums I've ever heard on a vaporwave track, hitting you directly in the face from the start.
But it isn't the case all the way through the album things take an extremely mellow turn by the third track "Cityscape View" where those huge drums are gone and replaced with chill piano loops playing atop a relaxed lounge-esque beat. The plundered little pieces of audio used throughout to give a perfect little accouterment to the hazy vibes with overly energetic announcers telling me about the great deals I can get on a Mitshubishi TV. Come to think of it, when was the last time I saw a Mitsubishi TV? At any rate, give this one a listen or two and see if you can remember what a Mitsubishi Starion looks like with googling it.
David Wallraf - Subsongs
Released: December 23
There's something very peculiar about this album that goes beyond just haunting or unsettling. The best way I can describe it is that it sounds, un-human. Not as though it is attempting to be aggressive and boisterous, just subtly yet very consciously alien. There a motif that invokes the form of birds and this motif makes itself present by the second track of the album "The Parliament of the Birds" in which, among all the cacophony and static you can hear the distant cawing of crows. Or at least I think I do.
This motif repeats in various parts of the album but is never overdone. By "Exits of the Sky," the crows have returned with more distinction. But along with these unusually manipulated bird songs, there are so many layers of sound stacked atop one another. Steering clear of any recognizable harmony or melody, each track paints a disquieting picture. For me, the pictures were never quite clear. Just sporadic images bathed in a dark haze, intermixed with brief recollections of scenes from the Hitchcock classic The Birds. If such a movie were made today, I would imagine this to be the soundtrack for it.
Konstruct - Soundworks
Released: January 21
I was quite delighted to see this in my inbox as Konstruct is actually a new performance group featuring two artists featured on this blog before (Simon McCorry & Andrew Heath) and one new name that I am thrilled to become familiar with (Phonsonic). Each of these artists creates some amazing works on their own so it was a joy to find out that they have come together to form a new project that is ambient-focused and puts their collective skills to amazing use.
For this project, we hear Andrew Heath contributing his spacey-styled guitar and piano pieces and McCorry adding his fondness for and talent on the cello to these five pieces. Additionally, all three artists bring their knack for wonderfully created field recordings to the table as well as their tendency towards flowing synth soundscapes. This entire EP seems so gentle and perfectly crafted that you may not expect this to technically be a live performance album. Recorded entirely at an art event called Ground Works, everything you hear is performed live and the result is absolutely ethereal.
Hualun - Dawn [Cassingle #27]
Released: January 21
Being the next installment in the Cassingle series from superpolar Taips, this two-track single carries on the spirit and exploratory nature of this series amazingly. This contribution changes direction only slightly from the last to take us closer to the world of post-rock though the first track wanders farther into piano-driven ambient than may be expected for what began as a Wuhan-based rock band.
However, by the second track, we are firmly in the territory of post-rock, complete with beautifully strummed electric guitar chords that wander and wane while never drifting too far away as the gentle improvisation of a second guitar takes us further into space. Along with the now more rhythmic piano that accompanies it, the vibe is absolutely serene and will make you want to drift away for the short time it plays.